what to do if you’re being paid less than a male coworker

If you’re a woman who suspects you’re being paid less than male coworkers for the same work, you don’t need to just stew quietly. You can raise the issue with your employer and insist that your company follow the law – which says that paying men and women differently for the same work performance is illegal. Here’s a step-by-step action plan for how to raise the issue — and what to do if that doesn’t work.

1. Find out if you’re earning less than your male coworkers.

One of the tricky things about pay inequality is that many of us have internalized the idea that we’re not supposed to talk to our coworkers about what we earn. In fact, it’s common for employers to have policies that explicitly forbid this — even though federal law says those policies are illegal for non-supervisory employees. And as a society, we’re weirdly squeamish about money, so there can be a high psychological barrier to asking colleagues outright what they’re earning.

But it’s extremely difficult to combat pay inequality if no one is willing to share what they’re earning, so it’s worth working to overcome that discomfort and to cultivate a culture of openness about money with friends and colleagues. If you’re not sure how to broach the topic, it can help to be transparent about why you’re asking. For example, you might say: “Confidentially, I’m worried there might be some gender or racial inequities in our pay structures. Would you be willing to share what you’re making so I can have more information about this?”

2. Know the law.

Sometimes women who find out that a male coworker is being paid more than them wonder if there’s a nondiscriminatory explanation for the difference: Maybe he negotiated better when he was hired, or he came from a higher-paying previous job, or he’s being groomed for management.

But none of those possibilities change the fact that if you’re doing basically the same work, getting paid a significantly different salary violates the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963. (The law does make exceptions if the employer can prove they’re paying someone more due to seniority or a merit system.) Also, paying men and women differently for the same work is illegal even if the employer doesn’t intend to discriminate. This means that you don’t need to prove that your employer intended to discriminate against women, just that men and women are in fact being paid differently for the same work.

3. Analyze the facts objectively.

There are legitimate and legal reasons why a male coworker doing similar work might be earning more than you — if he’s producing a higher level of work (which could include things like managing more people or bringing in more clients) or if he came in with a particular type of experience or educational background related to the work, for example. But if you take an objective look at your work and qualifications versus your coworker’s and don’t see an explanation for the difference in pay, it might indeed be as simple as a gender gap, and it’s worth raising the issue with your employer.

4. Talk to your boss first.

If your boss is reasonable, it makes sense to start with them (as opposed to HR, although you can take things to HR as a second step). Ask to meet with your boss; in the meeting, say something like: “I’m concerned about the salary disparity between me and George, and I’m concerned that we’re violating the Equal Pay Act by paying a man and a woman so differently for the same work. Can you help me understand why our salaries are so different?”

Note the “we” here — as in “we’re violating.” That’s deliberate, because it makes the conversation feel more collaborative and less adversarial. You want the tone to be the same one you’d use if you were raising a less personal work concern; you want it to seem like you’re looking out for the company’s best interests rather than making an overt legal threat. There’s still the subtext of potential legal action, but starting out this way lowers the heat and gives you a better chance of a good outcome.

The other benefit of starting the conversation this way — seeking to understand rather than being accusatory — is that there might be logical explanations for the pay gap that you’d find reasonable if you knew about them. You can always escalate the seriousness of your tone if that doesn’t happen.

5. Don’t answer questions about how you know someone else’s salary.

Some managers in this situation will get sidetracked on how you even know what a coworker makes and may try to tell you that you shouldn’t be discussing salary with coworkers at all because the company considers that private information. If that happens, say something like, “For the purpose of this conversation, the issue I’m concerned about is the pay disparity. Can you help me understand that?” Stick to that stance if your boss keeps asking how you know.

6. If needed, take it to HR.

If you’re not able to resolve the issue by talking with your manager, your next option is to raise the issue with HR. You could also start with HR if you don’t trust your boss to handle this well, and if you have a decent HR department, they should be trained to realize that gender pay gaps can pose real legal problems for the company if not addressed.

At the end of the meeting with your boss or with HR, ask when you should expect to hear back from them, so you have a timeline for when you should follow up if you haven’t heard anything.

7. If the issue remains unresolved, you have legal recourse.

If you don’t get (a) a satisfying explanation of why your coworker is being paid so differently than you, or (b) an increase to your pay to bring you up to the same level, you have legal recourse. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (no lawyer necessary!), and they’ll at least make an initial investigation of the complaint. (There’s information here about how to start the process and what to expect.)

Or you might find it helpful to talk over your options with a lawyer. That won’t necessarily mean suing your company; often lawyers are great for just advising you on how to negotiate. To find an attorney who specializes in employment issues, contact your state bar association, the National Employment Lawyers Exchange, or use Workplace Fairness’ referral service.

I originally published this at New York Magazine.

{ 205 comments… read them below }

  1. ThursdaysGeek*

    When I encountered this, I and my male co-worker were supporting payroll, so we were very open about our pay. He was paid slightly more, but had been there longer. That seemed fine. New management came in and offered the two guys 10-15% raises (they ended up getting about 7%), and when management finally got around to talking to me, offered me 3-5% (and came through with 2%). That was after changing the status of my co-worker and giving him a $6K raise (but not changing any of the work he did).

    My two male co-workers advised me to find a different job, because it was so obvious to all of us. I asked if they wanted to work for a company that treated women that way. It felt really good that all three of us found different jobs, and left within weeks of each other.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hope you all told them why in the exit interview.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I don’t recall that there was an exit interview. We thought he wanted to get rid of me (women should be at home with the kids, you know?), so he won on that hand. We also thought he wanted especially to keep one of the guys, and he lost there.

        I thought about fighting it, but at the time it seemed like a fight that was too hard to prove, and even if I had won, I would have lost as well. Alison’s wording for letting them know you’re aware of what is going on – I would certainly try that now.

  2. Perpal*

    I tend to chatter a little bit about salary but I don’t start with “I’m concerned there is a disparity”, I just ask “hey, I’m just curious, and it’s ok not to tell me; what are you making [insert level specifics here]”. So far no one seems to have balked. It did help that I was junior and transitioning to a higher position (finished training / hiring on full time) and trying to get a feel for what I could expect/financially plan for. Pay seemed very comparable to what I was being offered; if anything I was offered a bit more.
    So, I wouldn’t necessarily open with “i’m concerned about disparity” if you think things are probably fine but you are just curious; of course, if that concern is there it is reasonable.

    1. Perpal*

      I heard a really nice talk once; a woman who was a director of a program had a (male) incoming trainee ask for an onboarding bonus to help him and his family get medical coverage for the transition period. She thought “Yes, sounds good!” Then thought “wait, probably all the other (female) trainees are doing the same work, they haven’t asked but there’s no reason to pay them differently” and basically arranged for all incoming trainees to get this bonus.
      So, moral is, a great manager will notice a disparity and work to correct it. But I am interested in stories where a disparity was noticed; how did others handle it. It’s interesting to go back over some old posts and see the managers who tried to dodge it / justify it were just terrible in general and eventually got replaced, and/or folks left.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        In my case it wasn’t gender based, it was “new to the workplace” based: three of us in first jobs in Silicon Valley, and only the second job anywhere for at least one of us, had replied to “what are your salary expectations?” with numbers that were nice for suburban Texas or rural Canada – and even got bumped up from what we’d asked (I said “$24K?” and got 36K. 50% boost sounds awesome, right?).

        But the VP doing the asking had bought his house in the 70s, when California house prices were comparable to the rest of the US, and had no clue how much the COL had shot up since then. The CEO discovered this by accident (“what do you mean, you barely had enough for the $2K down payment on a car? You’ve been here 2 years now!”), did a review of everyone’s salary, and caught the three of us up to where we should’ve been – around $80K.

        1. Cathy Gale*

          At this point in time (versus the period when thus happened to you) the COL issue has become common knowledge, right? Are there still old timers who don’t understand the cost difficulties?

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            I honestly think they don’t even think about it. They may even think it’s a right of passage to struggle financially when you’re first starting out.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              The VP wasn’t expecting us to struggle. It was 1992, before any of the tech booms. He’d bought his house in the 70s so he still had a mortgage payment that was on par with the rest of the country, and the prices weren’t yet so radically higher that it made the news, so nobody involved (except the CEO) had any clue how much it really would cost to live out here.

          2. pleaset*

            “Are there still old timers who don’t understand the cost difficulties?”
            I think there are zillions of people who don’t understand how much higher certain things (such as tuition/student loans) are now than a few decades ago. The jokes about young people spending less on coffee and avocado toast as ways they should be able to afford housing and pay off college reflect this.

            “They may even think it’s a right of passage to struggle financially when you’re first starting out.” Yeah. This view is fair enough if it’s kept in perspective. But they don’t seem to understand that in some places it’s almost impossible for young people to ever buy homes without substantial intergenerational wealth or extremely high-end jobs.

          3. Gumby*

            Yes, sure, there are news articles and no one can say they are unaware of the cost of housing issues. OTOH, knowing academically that housing is expensive is different than knowing specifically “a 530 sq. ft. studio in that complex costs $2900/month.” And it is a step further to translate that into something like “wow, that is 50% of your salary” (or whatever). (That complex wouldn’t actually rent to you since they max out at accepting people where the rent is 33% of your salary.)

            1. The Original K.*

              Yeah, a friend in LA had more or less this exchange with her boss. She broke up with her boyfriend and had to move. He knew she was moving (didn’t know why) and asked her how her hunt was going. She said something like “Not great, I think I have to find a roommate” and he was like “Roommate? Really? Are you just trying to save money?” She said she didn’t think she could afford a place within a reasonable commuting distance of their office without a roommate. He was surprised and asked to see some listings. When he saw them he was like “Three grand a month for THAT?” He’s just been out of the housing market for ages so how much housing costs (especially rental housing) is not on his radar at all.

              1. ssssssssssssssssssss*

                Yeah, my aunties had sticker shock when I told them my sister’s rent for a three-storey walk-up downtown and I thought it was cheap. Rent was cheaper in their town and it had been SO long since they paid rent (having owned the same place for decades), they had no clue what rent was.

              2. TardyTardis*

                When my daughter lived in Los Angeles, I would send down the real estate listings from our home (small ruralish area) just so she could pass them around to her friends to make them cry. Yes, I know it was cruel.

            2. Bigglesworth*

              I agree. The rent my spouse and I pay is more than my parents’ and my sister’s mortgage – probably combined to be honest. And that’s with a housemate footing almost half the rent.

              Different areas of the country and different lengths of time outside of house hunting made that a major sticker shock to my folks when they found out. Head knowledge about the costs is one thing – actually living with it is another

          4. Artemesia*

            You see this all the time with olds in the media and politics who think a 15$ minimum wage would be ridiculous. I remember someone saying, ‘yeah, I only got $2.50 when I started out in 1970; no one pointed out that that would be around $16 in today’s dollars. Lots of people think 50K is a huge salary. I got 16K in 1976 and 50 would have been huge. But in today’s dollars my 16K then would be worth 71K today. Many of the people who think teachers or cops are grossly overpaid if they pull in 60K are themselves in high six figures and have no idea what it costs to live a modest comfortable lifestyle and pay for medical care.

            1. EANx*

              Except for the fact that in 1970, the minimum wage was $1.45, not $2.50. You’re talking about a minimum wage then going into what someone claimed to make at that time, which was 40% higher, and making the argument that the inflation-adjusted value should be the current minimum.

              1. Sam Vimes*

                $1.45 may have been the Federal minimum wage in 1970, but there are also state minimum wages. It’s possible the speaker was in a state where $2.50 was the minimum wage. In Hawai’i it was $2.40 in 1975, and up to $2.65 by 1978, compared to $2.10 and $2.30 as the Federal minimum wage in those years. (of course, it’s more likely that the speaker was just using average/representative dates and monetary amounts to give a general idea of their point).

                According to Wikipedia “Using 2018 inflation-adjusted dollars, the federal minimum wage peaked at $11.79 per hour in 1968. If the minimum wage in 1968 had kept up with labor’s productivity growth, it would have reached $19.33 in 2017.”

              2. TardyTardis*

                In 1976, I was make over $3 an hour as a nurse’s aide, and I sure wasn’t depending on it to live on since I had military orders to leave in just a few months. But I knew people who did, and it wasn’t easy back then either.

                Now $10 an hour (remember, smallish rural area) is something that people *do* live on, though they’re on food stamps if they do.

            2. Mary Ann*

              Please don’t be ageist in your comment. Saying “the olds” is pretty derogatory. I have 3 children in their late 20’s early 30’s and I work in retail so I know how bad things are.

  3. Pay Equity Anon*


    Here is where I’m feeling stuck:

    My colleague, who has a very similar job to mine, makes 40% more than me. He is the only man with a similar job. But our jobs aren’t exactly the same and it’s hard to tell whether there’s a reasonable explanation for the difference. (It seems like no, to me, especially not that huge of a difference. But I’m obviously not objective here.)

    I’ve discussed it with my boss (who is also his boss), who agrees with me but doesn’t seem to know how to do anything about it.

    I’ve discussed it with my grandboss, who was weirdly cagey and suggested that I talk to HR. (… why is that necessary?)

    So… I guess I’ll talk to HR?

    1. Friday*

      I hope you’re in California.. we passed a law that substantially similar work needs to be paid the same as well, not just equal work. Maybe some other states have this too now.

      Good luck with HR!

      1. KHB*

        This is the sort of thing I’ve long wondered about. In a workplace like mine (in not-California), it’s so rare to have two people doing exactly the same work. Either their duties are slightly different, or one has substantially more seniority than the other, or one does a subjectively better job than the other, etc., and it seems like you could always say that any difference in salary is due to one or another of those factors. In cases like that, how do you ever pin down a salary disparity well enough to say “This is unfair and illegal”?

        1. Friday*

          Well, the onus is on the company to make a solid case for the disparity, and I think in CA’s case, seniority/longevity doesn’t matter when the work is similar. I don’t know about work output. I hope that the majority of companies would prefer to quickly correct the issue rather than open themselves up to litigation.

          1. KHB*

            Litigation is a pretty last-resort measure, though. If you otherwise like your job and want to stay, you’re probably not going to take your employer to court over a few thousand dollars, especially if the employer has a quasi-plausible argument of the form “Your coworker makes a different salary than you because he’s a different person than you.”

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            In most cases seniority is a defense when the work is similar or even the same job.

            “Pay differentials are permitted when they are based on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or a factor other than sex. These are known as “affirmative defenses” and it is the employer’s burden to prove that they apply.” https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-epa.cfm

            “Under the current law, an employer can defeat an Equal Pay Act claim by proving that the difference in pay for substantially similar work is due to:

            a system that measures production; and/or
            a “bona fide factor other than sex, race, or ethnicity.””


      2. John Thurman*

        That’s super interesting! I wonder how it applies to backgrounds like college degrees, etc.
        One time I was offered more than a coworker because I know about leasing and they were thinking about moving offices. But then they renewed the lease and never brought it up again.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Normally the law requires that skills, education need to be related to the job being done. That would be a close call. If dealing with leases was a regular part of the job I could maybe see it being allowed, but for a once every 10 years were you deal with signing a new lease I could see that not being considered legal.

          ” The issue is what skills are required for the job, not what skills the individual employees may have. For example, two bookkeeping jobs could be considered equal under the EPA even if one of the job holders has a master’s degree in physics, since that degree would not be required for the job.”

          Follow the link in my post above about eeoc . gov

    2. LaDeeDa*

      Many companies have compensation as part of the HR department, or at least any real HR person will have a good understanding of compensation and why it is important. If you have similar/comparable job descriptions then HR needs to look at why there is such a huge difference. If someone was being hired today would they give a salary where the lowest and highest was a 40% difference?? No, probably not. How long someone has been in that position doesn’t explain it either.
      I have seen it happen when there was a reorganization, and someone went from one level/position down to a lower level and position. Instead of cutting their pay they get the person to agree that they will not get a raise or bonus until the salary difference in the position levels out. And with 40% that will take forever!

      1. Pay Equity Anon*

        That is part of what is happening here. My colleague was demoted (due to poor performance) but his salary and title were not adjusted; he just has fewer/lower responsibilities.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          OO no, that isn’t the same. He was demoted for poor performance but let him keep his salary?!?! WTF, I want less responsibility for the same money. Where do you work? LOL!

    3. designbot*

      This is hard, when it might make sense that there’s some difference, but somehow it’s grown beyond reason. Like it sounds like it might make sense to you if he was paid 10–15% more, but 40%? That’s not reasonable for doing mostly the same job, that’s a whole different bracket.

      1. RandomU...*

        There really shouldn’t be any job that has 40% discrepancy for the same job title. If you do, then you have someone grossly mis-categorized, a totally incompetent HR-Compensation dept, a blatant pay favor, or a combination of all of them. I suspect this is only one of a number of dysfunctions at this particular company.

        1. Pay Equity Anon*

          Ah, but there’s the rub. It’s NOT the same title. He has a title 4 levels above mine… but our work is very similar (managing programs, of similar budget and scope).

          1. Autumnheart*

            That is also a disparity. Why should his title be such a higher level when the work is analogous?

            1. Pay Equity Anon*

              Yes, that’s the problem. His pay is appropriate for the level in which he is classified; the problem is that his job description does not justify his high classification.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                Under equal pay act it is job content/duties that matter not job titles. I can be given a title of Grand Poobah Cashier, but do the same exact job as a regular cashier, that would not justify a pay discrepancy. Now if the position is Head Cashier, and while I might not have full supervisory position over other cashiers, but if I assign them a break schedule, and can move them around from register to register, while I also work as a cashier that could justify a pay difference.

                “It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically, the EPA provides that employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.”

                Check out “https: // www. eeoc .gov / eeoc / publications / fs-epa . cfm”

          2. LaDeeDa*

            That is a problem… if you can get your hands on his job description and yours and can show them the job is comparable, the requirements/education/experience is similar… they should do something about it. Do you have a real HR department or one that is staffed by people who mean well, but aren’t really HR professionals?

          3. designbot*

            So that’s part of the problem of ‘leveling,’ which incidentally Google recently identified as an issue that needs further study in their workplace. So it’s a thing, where the markers that determine someone’s level in a company are too subjective or easy to misapply.

    4. neverjaunty*

      “Substantially similar”, not identical.

      That your boss can’t explain it and your grand boss is furtive suggests very strongly this is hinky. If they can’t even come up with a glib excuse…

    5. Vic Nelson*

      I had to leave my union job because I was paid 20% less than my identically situated male coworkers who were hired after I was (no seniority excuse). The reason I was given for the disparity…? “Because you agreed to it.”

      In the end I lost all of my various complaints because I was the only woman out of 100 men so there was no way to prove that it was gender-based pay discrimination. No one considered the fact I was 1% of the population to be a problem in any way whatsoever.

    6. TardyTardis*

      I used to work for a company that had women and Hispanic men in the lowest jobs, half and half men and women for the middle jobs, and mostly white men in the highest jobs (the row of portraits of company officers was um, enlightening that way). That’s a harder one to fight, though.

  4. Free Meerkats*

    Personally, I’m in favor of a federal law that requires total compensation transparency. There’s no better way to end the pay disparities that are based on gender, ethnicity, attractiveness, etc.

    Tell me why I’m wrong.

    1. mt*

      becuase there are many factors, as listed in the article, why people’s pay may legally be the same. This information would need to be published as well, so that lower performing workers are screaming law suit every 10 minutes.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Also, there are industries that do require total pay transparency, and low performers aren’t screaming lawsuit every 10 minutes in those. No reason to think that would happen in other industries, and it’s definitely not a justification for being opaque about pay.

          1. Mt*

            Those are mostly union type situations where mediocre performers are rewarded just like excellent performers based solely on their tenure

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              It also includes governments, universities — and upper-level executives at publicly traded companies.

            2. Aveline*

              Maybe in the US. But that’s not true in other countries.

              I lived and worked in one for a while. Total transparency on salary scale, but not individual salaries. However, individual salaries had to be audited and reported yearly to the federal government. If there was anything hinky, the penalties were outrageous.

              Worked a lot better than our system.

            3. evie from the mummy*

              I work for a university (staff, so non-union) – all of our salaries are public record, it’s state law. I can pull up anyone’s salary, from the President to our temp shelver, based on their job classification. The public can, too.

      1. JSPA*

        This seems to presume that lower-paid people are lawsuit-happy, and / or not rational enough to consider the existence of multiple legitimate factors, and / or bad team players and / or disproportionately likely to overvalue themselves. I doubt controlled studies would back up even one of these presumptions. People who think they’re a gift to humanity are (generally) first, not last, in negotiating pay raises and otherwise following the money.

    2. hermit crab*

      I used to work for an organization with more or less total pay transparency (within our department, at least – we worked on cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts where your external billing rate was your hourly pay times an inflation factor; anyone doing contract admin or budgeting had a legitimate business need to know other folks’ rates). It didn’t prevent pay discrepancies, but it sure made it easy to find and address them!

    3. RandomU...*

      Because there’s more to a person then their gender, ethnicity, and attractiveness. There is also merit, performance, education, skill, etc.

      It’s all well and good to say that Chris and Pat are doing the same job, but many times (not all) there are things that will set two people apart. So with this transparency, now every year after performance appraisals and merit increases I have my team looking at each other thinking “Why did Chris get more of a raise than me” Answer: Chris is a better worker than you. Do you really think Pat is going to think to themselves, “Hmm… Chris did do all that extra work this past year.” Not likely, they are going to go straight to “Of course Chris is a man and got more than me”

      Have you noticed that industries that publish pay rates also have across the board increases (everyone gets the same percentage)? I’m sure there are some exceptions, but I haven’t heard of any. Does that strike you as coincidence?

      Yeah, I’m not willing to trade my performance based pay for a make everyone the same so no one gets their feelings hurt system.

      By now, I’m sure most will miss this last part, but I’ll say it anyway. Does obvious and intentional pay discrepancies occur. Of course they do. When it’s found should it be addressed and should there be some protections offered to workers. Yes. Should we swing so far in the other direction where merit, education, and other factors are not able to be considered. Absolutely not.

      1. RandomToo*

        I agree with you. This is the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ mentality, which leads to absolute mediocrity. You went above and beyond and have more experience? Too bad! Jane who is out of the office at 5 on the dot and does the bare minimum to not get fired will call the EEOC if she doesn’t get the same pay.

          1. Emily Spinach*

            And many union contracts have procedures for transparent assessment of merit and corresponding raises, too.

          2. Aveline*

            It’s also not as if our only choices are total transparency or complete corruption.

            Having worked in a country where salary ranges for a position must be published ahead of time, I prefer it to the US system. Yes, there was variation within the position based on merit and there were performance bonuses. But if Jack made more than Jill, it was because he had some objective metric such as a more advanced degree or a speciality certification. It was illegal to pay him more without having some objective reason.

            That’s all people really want: objective, hard reasons.

      2. Delphine*

        Why do you think transparency would lead to women crying “because he’s a man!!!” at every opportunity and move us away from a merit-based system? Why do you think women don’t want to be judged on merit/skill and instead want “gender, ethnicity, and attractiveness” taken into account? That’s mind-bogglingly offensive.

        And let’s be frank, if our current system was based entirely on merit and education we wouldn’t have a pay gap issue.

        1. KHB*


          If your mental picture of “merit-based system” is that men are the ones with all the merit and women are the lazy hangers-on, then you are part of the problem.

        2. RandomU...*

          “Why do you think transparency would lead to women crying “because he’s a man!!!” at every opportunity and move us away from a merit-based system? ”

          Because I’ve seen it in action with sad regularity. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be about gender. Ever give kids unequal slices of cake? Just watch their reaction. You think adults in the workplace are going to be any different?

          “Why do you think women don’t want to be judged on merit/skill and instead want “gender, ethnicity, and attractiveness” taken into account? That’s mind-bogglingly offensive.”

          It is offensive, and I don’t remember saying this at all. I think you misread my comment or maybe I wasn’t clear in what I wrote. I was saying that women do want to be judged on merit/skill etc. instead of gender, ethnicity, etc.

          “And let’s be frank, if our current system was based entirely on merit and education we wouldn’t have a pay gap issue.”

          Yes and no…. but this is a whole other discussion that isn’t conducive to a comments section on a blog.

          1. RandomU...*

            To add though… because I don’t think I got this next bit across and meant to say it.

            I don’t trust most companies not to go into stupid mode if a fully transparent system came into play. Most HR and legal departments are so risk adverse it’s not out of the realms of possibility they do away with a merit based pay system, because of the risk of having defend against a “He got a higher raise because he’s man” claims. It’s all well and good to say… but they can still have merit based increases, they just have prove X, Y, and Z. When in reality it won’t be worth the risk and in the end it’s easier to say “Everyone gets X%”

            1. RandomU...*

              Ironically, I edited out a paragraph that said something to the affect that I don’t think gender would be the only thing people had an issue with. So while that’s where my original post went, I was thinking wider, but was starting to wander and not make sense.

              I touched on in a later post, but I think if there were full transparency to merit increases (which there would be if salary were published for everyone) that every year come raise time entire teams would fall into this trap of wondering why A got a better raise than C, and why was D suddenly making more than E. What’s up with Q, they didn’t get any raise… they must suck. etc

              Which would then go into the next step of… “C got a bigger raise than me, well that’s not fair, C got this advantage” or “I should have gotten a bigger raise than D because I spent all that time polishing the paper clips this year and was too busy to lead that big client project”…

              Morale would tank and every manager would have a line of people at their door wondering why they didn’t get the same as the next guy.

              No manager in their right mind is going to go through that, so they will do the ‘safe thing’ and give everyone the same. Yep, you’ll still have morale tank, but it’s a lot easier to explain that everyone got an equal percentage, so it’s ‘fair’.

              1. RandomU...*

                Ugh… I seem to be forgetting to add words in appropriate places. Feel free to insert whatever makes sense if I missed one or two. Or pick random words and use my posts as madlibs for your afternoon entertainment :)

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                I suppose there are people who would do that. And a bunch of us who would see that discrepancy and understand why. I can tell when someone is a better worker than me, and I know who’s been here longer.

                To forestall some of the issues, it would make sense to also make the evaluation process more open: “We have $X to divide among Y people, and employees C and D really hit it out of the park this year, so they are going to get Z% of that total amount. That means you are getting W% for your raise, which puts you at 54% compensation in your pay band.”

                1. BeenThere OG*

                  This. This is the real truth. Compensation in many companies is driven mostly by how well the company did overall, so even if you busted your butt all year and hit it out the park. If the company did poorly then there is only so much they can ration from the performance pool.

          2. BelleMorte*

            I’m Canadian and our current government made a pointed effort to have at least 50% women in the cabinet, historically it was something like 12%. Cue people wailing “it should be on merit, not gender!” Some people flipped it as, ok then, we’ll have 75% women instead because they are more qualified. At that point people became enraged at the assumption that women COULD be more qualified than men. That is the problem.

            Women would love to be considered on equal basis on merit alone, but historically we have not been, we have been passed up for opportunity after opportunity which prevents us from moving forward. Maybe as women are treated on an equal basis right from the start (and I’m talking birth here), then eventually this won’t be an issue.

          3. Yikes*

            So first, you think women would be the only ones complaining/suing, and then you compare us to children begging for cake.

            Take a breather and realize that not every man is the top performer he thinks himself to be. The reason so many of us think that pay disparity is because “He’s a man!!!” is because it SO OFTEN is.

        3. Maya Elena*

          There is no such thing as a system “entirely based on merit”, unless it’s centralized and test-based, which has its own problems. I don’t think we want that as a society. Ultimately you’re going to have to be comfortable with some margin of error – e.g. salary discrepancies averaging <5% for the same job. Since the "70 cents on the dollar" is an out-dated and coarse statistic that aggregates across industries, that isn't a good basis for deciding how much of an issue pay equity is in a given industry or company.

          Moreover, any kind of employment-based intervention will NOT reduce discrepancies attributable to people's personal choices, attitudes, and interests. As a good illustration of this, a recent study by Uber and a university (forget which) compared male and female drivers' earnings, finding a 7% discrepancy in (I think) the hourly wage, attributable to things such as the speed at which women drive, which neighborhoods they go to, and what hours they drive.
          Here's a link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2018/09/23/gender-paygap-uber-case-study/
          So… you will see discrepancies even in any reasonably merit-based, gender-blind system without ridiculous enforcement mechanisms.

          Now, you can make nuanced arguments about how society socializes women to behave in certain ways and make choices, but most of these are generally out of scope for the workplace to address. What this, shows is that you can have de-facto discrepancies without active discrimination.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        General on-topic grumbling….
        The guy who was hired 6 months before me was still dithering around playing games and not releasing product 6 months after I was cranking out releases. After a corporate buyout we got reorganized and he quit shortly thereafter. My new female manager was not upset that he quit — he’d been getting paid significantly more than every woman in the department including those with an Ivy League degree and 5 years of relevant experience, but he’d been producing less than 10% of those who worked themselves up from within the company. It took YEARS before we caught up to where he’d been started. He looked good in a suit and talked a good game…but more importantly he & four female employees were hired by a male manager who I’ll euphemistically call old-fashioned. (He has a FAAAAAAmily to support. Some of us were thinking but yeah, we can’t START a faaaaaamily until we can support them!)

        1. Cathy Gale*

          Sounds like my husbands former colleague. Making only 2k less than the female VP despite serious incompetence, but the old fashioned president really liked him, and he had a family on the way. Making a lot more than my husband, who was perceived as young, despite his experience and fact that his work was keeping company alive. Several people, including VP, tried to warn him without saying outright, “you’re being cheated on pay”. Original president was paying him so low he never caught up to gormless fool who was making 6 figures, even after decade.

      4. Overeducated*

        Eh. I work in a sector where salaries are completely transparent and consistent depending on level and seniority. There are other incentives for not being mediocre, like performance awards (bonuses and time off), actually caring about your work, and career advancement. I’m not convinced that in a system where raises were part of that reward system, there would be more incentive to do well – the people who don’t care and just want to do the minimum and warm a seat could still do that.

        1. Armchair Expert*

          “Caring about your work” is not to be underestimated! My partner works in government, in a position where his salary is completely transparent, there is no option for bonuses, and there’s also very little room for advancement because everyone above him has tenure and won’t leave unless they retire. And he still does an excellent job, because he cares about what he does and about who he is.

      5. Gazebo Slayer*

        Gender and racial pay discrepancies don’t actually need to be *intentionally* discriminatory to be illegal. The law in this case looks at impact, not intent. An employer that bases pay on employees’ compensation in their previous jobs may not be planning to perpetuate pay gaps, but they’re doing so all the same.

    4. Magenta Sky*

      When the experiment was tried a few years back, the pay disparity between men and women actually increased somewhat. (Women negotiate differently, and with different goals. It’s a very complicated issue, and there are no simple solutions that fit into one sentence.)

    5. Burned Out Supervisor*

      If I remember correctly, even if your employer encourages you to keep your pay private, they cannot discipline you or fire you for talking about your pay to co-workers. Not exactly complete transparency in the form of compelling employers to disclose pay scales, but it’s something.

      1. Becky*

        Though, as I understand it that CAN legally forbid you to talk about it on company property.

        1. Burned Out Supervisor*

          Nope they can’t (in the US anyway), even if you’re not a union member. Google NLRB Concerted activity for more info (I think my comment is in moderation b/c of linkage.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Nothing is free. Such a regulation – if you want it actually enforced – would create a large administrative burden for the government and employers. Those costs would be felt by most companies, even the richest; and while Big Finance, Big Tech, and Big Health may not feel it as badly, every industry with lower profit margins will, with spill-over effects on employment, quality of jobs, rate of wage growth, etc. Defining “merit” and “equal work” – a complex endeavor – will also necessarily create all sorts of marginal cases, grounds for legal action, and make a lot of workplaces more rigid in their compensation schemes, which has pluses for the average but minuses for the outlier employees.

      At the same time, I would posit that the actual benefits – e.g. amount netted in salary increases thanks to the law, or average increase in salary, won’t be significant unless you make the law define “equal work” in a very broad and sweeping way. Otherwise I don’t think you would move the needle on society- or industry-wide discrepancies in pay (“70 cents on the dollar”) because those are mediated by a dozen other factors outside of pay transparency: company structure, geography, local labor market, what school a person went to, personal ambition, taking time off for childcare, personal preferences, etc.

  5. Rebecca*

    The internet and information age has really helped with these types of issues. A little over 20 years ago, I overheard a male coworker on the phone with his bank, applying for a loan, and he gave his salary: over $10K more than I was being paid, and we did the same type of work. I asked my manager at the time what was up with that, and was told (1) I could be fired for asking what his pay rate was, even though I didn’t ask and overheard it, and (2) he was paid more because he was a married man and had a family to support. I was stunned, and said, yes, so do I, I’m working to support my family, too! I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was moved to another office area shortly thereafter.

    I really wish I was making this up, but this was a privately held family business, and they pulled a lot of shady things like this: threatening us with plant closure if any talk of unionization occurred, threatening to fire people who asked other employees what their pay rate was, attendance points for non-exempt employees who missed time due to sickness, even though we had no sick time available to us and very limited vacation time, etc. I wish we had known at the time, 80’s and 90’s, about all the laws they were violating. I guess we never thought about hiring an attorney, not that we could have afforded it, and being in a small rural area, not sure who would have gotten on board with putting the hammer down on one of the biggest employers in the county.

    I’m happy to report that a few years later, I was able to get another job, I left, and never looked back. They’re almost out of business now, and I couldn’t care less. I’m just sorry I can’t go back retroactively and sue them for what’s left over all the crap they pulled over the years.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      “I’m an unmarried woman who doesn’t have the option of a second household income. So pay up.”

      1. irene adler*

        They’ll just tell you to get married. Eyeroll.

        Back in the late 1980’s I got a lab job where the HR lady explained that the position was considered a “second income” job -meant for those who already have a spouse bringing in the “main” income.

        Yet every person there was living on this as their sole source of income. And living hand-to-mouth as well.
        And yes, most were women.
        I asked about promotion opportunities. Was told that I needed a Ph.D. to advance.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, I’ve had a lot of those jobs. I had one where they had a health plan but didn’t tell us about it, and the business manager said aloud one day, in front of all of us, to the personnel manager that the next “girl” she hired, try to make sure she was married so she could be on her husband’s insurance. It didn’t occur to me at the time that that was probably wildly illegal but it sure pissed me off.

          1. irene adler*

            This same place didn’t let us have access to the employee manual. Preferred to tell us about our benefits and policies verbally.
            Then one day, corporate HR visited. And they were shocked that we didn’t have personal copies of the employee manual. So they held a meeting where they distributed copies and had us read along with the HR director. He was flabbergasted every time he read aloud about yet another benefit that we didn’t know anything about.
            Egg on our HR person’s face that day.
            But this still didn’t fix the pay disparity of the inability to advance.

            1. WellRed*

              Did your HR think there job was to protect the company pocket book by not having employees take advantage of benefits? I don’t suppose they were fired?

              1. irene adler*

                Nobody got fired. I don’t know if anyone was admonished or otherwise punished.
                It was explained that some of the benefits were hard to administer as we were a production lab.

        2. antigone_ks*

          “They’ll just tell you to get married.”

          My mother’s employer actually did that . . . around ’88-’89ish? They said a brand-new male coworker needed a higher salary than she did because he had a family to support. She pointed out that she was a single mom with a family to support, and her boss told her she could always remarry.

    2. Lora*

      A publicly traded company I worked for in the early 2000s paid women managers half – yes, HALF – what they paid the managers’ male subordinates, on the grounds that “she’s just doing it for pin money, but he has a family to support.” Guys with barely a bachelor’s degree in a vaguely related field, paid 2X more than their women managers who had master’s degrees in highly relevant fields.

      For all I know they still do. And they were considered one of the BEST employers in an economically depressed area, it wasn’t like you could leave for a lot of better choices without relocating. I relocated first chance I got. And people STILL wonder what is the magic that lures people to work in hotspots where if one employer doesn’t work out, there’s another hiring right down the road. Um, because when there’s only one or two half-decent employers who suck in very serious, major ways, you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no other options!

      At this point I think the reason employers don’t want pay transparency isn’t at all about fear of lawsuits as others have mentioned – it’s because they don’t want too many people knowing that the grass really IS greener, because then they’d have to pay market rate and competition between companies would actually be level and fair. A lot of employers rely on people’s ignorance to keep their operating expenses artificially low. If they had to compete like the economic models of capitalism say they should, they’d have a lot more overhead.

      You know those annual “best place for women to work” surveys? How come they only look at things like maternity leave policies, instead of pay disparity? You always see, “Three Initial Corporation was the #1 best rated place for women to work! They give five whole minutes of paid maternity leave and give every lady pink coffee cups! Hooray!” but you never see, “Three Initial Corp was the #1 best company for pay equity and equality of promotions throughout senior management; additionally, the BoD is comprised of 30% women, a 2X improvement over their peers in the Random Widget Industry.”

      1. Sally*

        “A lot of employers rely on people’s ignorance to keep their operating expenses artificially low. If they had to compete like the economic models of capitalism say they should, they’d have a lot more overhead.”

        +1. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but this is a really good point.

    3. Becky*

      Can I show everyone who makes that argument about a man having a family to support so he deserves a higher wage that West Wing clip where young!Mrs.Landingham tells young!Jed that if family size were the basis of salaries at the school the highest paid person would be the groundskeeper and would be making triple what the headmaster makes.

      1. elle kay*

        “Then God, Jed I don’t even want to know you.”

        Because this is such a poignant counterpoint to that incessant argument.

    4. TardyTardis*

      This reminds me of the job I had for a short time where I was paid by personal check, and somehow I was found unnecessary when I asked for a check stub. He kept his daughter on, of course, though I could have told him just how much work *she* did around the place, plus I knew how many really bad deals he was getting into. Only took him two years to close up shop (though I was pleasantly surprised later on when I found out he actually had paid the various employment taxes and that I had SS quarters for that time, it wasn’t the way to bet).

  6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    It’s not the same as the wildly spread, historically grounded, society issue as women being paid less but anyone in Washington state should know this goes both ways now.

    We have gender pay equality enacted and if your employer is paying women more than men, that’s illegal too. The wage differences must be based on specific criteria such educational background and experience not the salary history or what they ask for or who they know in the company etc.

    It’s new as of July 2018 and needs to be known so everyone is aware. Also this will likely be in other states with strong employee based labor laws!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I don’t know the details of the Washington law, but federal law has always covered both genders (I’m not sure about folks outside the gender binary — I imagine there’s interesting case law, or future case law, about that). Women aren’t protected from discrimination; people are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex.

      1. blackcat*

        Right, there’s this misconception that laws against discriminating against a “protected class” only cover women or minorities. Nope. It is illegal to discriminate against white men for being white men. But the reality is that it very, very rarely happens that way.
        And I think I’m not alone in not wanting the comment section to turn into “But what about the men!”

          1. TardyTardis*

            Right, like anyone has to care about it since the class action suits against K-Mart and Wal-Mart on age issues failed to go forward…

      2. mt*

        this is why i hate when articles are written for a specific protected class. Google recently found that they were under paying men when they did their research into this issue.

        1. KHB*

          A lot of people take issue with that finding, and argue that Google had a pattern of hiring women into lower-level positions than they were offering men with the same qualifications, so their salary analysis was comparing overqualified women to less-qualified men at the same level, so it’s no wonder that the former were paid more. I don’t know enough about the situation to know whether that’s true or not, but it seems plausible.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            My thought was that, perhaps, of the men being underpaid Google was taking advantage of something else, like their visa status, to pay them less than their citizen/Green Card counterparts. So the pay disparity existed due to discrimination, just not along sex lines.

          2. Maya Elena*

            Of course it seems plausible, but equally plausible are other explanations, like women may actually prefer more people-facing and less challenging – and lower-paid – roles, may not angle for the promotion as much, and are happy to check out at 5 to be with their kids. I But saying, “Ah! There must be sexism there SOMEWHERE, we’ll find it yet!” sounds like someone more invested in finding it.

            1. KHB*

              The thing is, there usually IS sexism somewhere, because that’s how sexism works: It’s not just that some people are evil sexists who are consciously trying to make sure women get less than they deserve (although there are certainly some people like that in the world), it’s the cumulative effect of the thousands of tiny ways we all treat men and women differently, often without even realizing it. So yeah, I think that analyses that find that men are the “real” victims of sexism should always be scrutinized (note: not dismissed out of hand), because there’s a good chance (note: not a certainty) that if you scratch the surface you’ll find something deeper going on.

              And anyway, why should women prefer less challenging work than men? I’m sure some women prefer unchallenging work (as do some men), because people are individuals and prefer all sorts of things. But as a group?

            2. Starbuck*

              “women may actually prefer more people-facing and less challenging – and lower-paid – roles”

              Or those roles are perceived as less challenging and less worthy of remuneration because women prefer them. Look into the issue of doctor’s pay in Russia and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

              And let’s not pretend that women being less aggressive with promotions or more likely to end up at home with kids is a neutral choice being made in a vacuum. There isn’t sexism somewhere – sexism is everywhere.

            3. writing after office hours*

              I hear often that I like people and teaching and love and puppies. Nope, I’m an antisocial cat person. But I’m female. So even though I’m in frickin’ mathematics, where I went so I could ignore people for the rest of my life, I always get the people jobs.

              I know, I know, you’re not saying that I *personally* prefer people-facing, less-challenging jobs… but I hear it all the time from others, the boobs mean that I must want to be a math teacher instead of a math researcher. The PhD may say otherwise, but it doesn’t matter, because I have an Mrs which is more of an accomplishment. Ugh, ugh, ugh. So tiresome. Makes me hate people even more.

            4. TardyTardis*

              Or those are the roles that women get hired in, because of course they’re so much better with people than with numbers!

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Right but it’s hard to then boil it down to the “why”. The Equal Pay Act makes it known what is acceptable to base wages on.

        See above where they stated having a family or being the primary provider being used to justify the gap.

        You can’t say “single parents get more” either in the new legislature.

        Gender discrimination itself is bitterly hard to prove and it’s what its gone on so long.

        1. Mt*

          Its hard becuase there are soo many valid reasons to have a pay disparity.

          I know that i get paid more and have more vacation than the other person who does what i do within my company. But i have more tenure and experience doing more complex projects. If you just looked at job title it would appear the other person is being paid less to do a similar job.

  7. mt*

    They only change with #2, is that you should offer up your salary and other compensation first, when asking someone else theirs.

  8. JustAWomanInAMansWorld*

    I’ve long suspected that I’m paid less than my male counterparts. I accepted a promotion last year but only actually received a portion of the pay increase I was (verbally) told I’d receive. The whole thing was a mess. Every time I’ve asked about it, I’ve essentially been brushed off. I’ve not escalated it to HR because they are largely ineffective. I have reason to believe I’m currently making 7-8% less than the other same level (male) managers, but no way to verify. There are two of them, they’re older so by default they have more working experience but I have many more years of seniority with the company in addition to a broader scope of knowledge. I am greatly outperforming one of them; that is an indisputable fact.
    We are approaching annual increases (which are based on pencil-whipped evaluations where everyone is doing mostly average with no complaints and minimal room for improvement). I have a great relationship with my boss but this is the one area where I am banging my head against the wall. I am job searching because this feels like a no-win battle.

    1. Czhorat*

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      Fellow gents, I’ll add that there’s somethign we can do: if a woman asks what we make, be transparent about it. Even if you’re not with the same employer, it does everyone good to know what the industry standard pay is for your kind of work.

      Let’s break the taboo about salaries.

      (Has AAM had an open thread for this? If not, perhaps we can? And if so, perhaps it’s time for another?)

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        I think there was one recently. But I’m not sure it included gender. I think it was organized by type of work and people were asked to share general geographic location and salary.

      2. Statler von Waldorf*

        You can claim “it does everyone good,” but that wasn’t my experience. I lost out on a promised promotion where they cited a “lack of discretion” after I disclosed my salary information to a co-worker who was totally getting screwed over for being a woman in a male dominated workplace. She was soon fired for a reason that was complete bull****, and I went from a friendly relationship with the business owner to having to find a new job in a very short period of time. I won’t make that mistake again.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just FYI, that is illegal if you weren’t a management level employee. (I realize illegal does not always mean “easy to fight” though.)

          1. Statler von Waldorf*

            Not in Canada. While generally our worker protections are stronger here, there is no equivalent to the National Labor Relations Act up here. I consulted with a lawyer after this, and he concluded that I had no case. My co-worker might have had one, but given that the owner’s lawyers got paid more per hour than either of use made in a month, I can’t blame her for just moving on.

              1. Tau*

                For what it’s worth, I think some of the laws for overtime for non-exempt employees are stricter than the equivalent here in Germany. German lawyers may feel free to correct me on this.

  9. Environmental Compliance*

    Part of the reason I have a great deal of respect for Current Boss is that when he first entered into the position, he reviewed pay across the board, then fought to equalize out discrepancies. The H&S guy, who was my equivalent, and with the same (or less) education/experience, was apparently being paid significantly more than myself. Said guy was also fired for incompetency, as a side note. Anyway, BossMan negotiated me an 8% raise to bring me up to what he felt was my ‘fair market value’* and to put both the E and the H&S in a similar bracket.

    I didn’t even know about it until he called me into his office to tell me how irritated he was by whoever decided on that and that by the way my pay’s increasing starting [date], among mutterings of “shameful! just shameful!” and “stupid, stupid, how the hell they expect to keep good people they do stupid shit like that” and “you pay on experience! value! not male or female or whatever!”.

    *Fair market value makes it sound like I’m some kind of livestock or something, so I’m sure there’s a better way to put that, but I couldn’t think of it at the time of typing this out…

    1. LaDeeDa*

      That is awesome. Every two years my team partners with our compensation department and we evaluate every single level of positions within our company. We look at what is standard in the industry, in various different areas the world, we also evaluate risk of leaving — are the people in X position highly sought after/recruited/marketable, do they have a speciality skill that we would have a hard time filling, etc. This year we did a full equity adjustment, so most people only got the small cost of living increase so that we could some big adjustments to make sure people were paid equally and the “fair market value” (ha! There is a name for it, but I can’t remember what the comps people called it.)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m hoping going forward BossMan pushes for a regular reevaluation of pay vs market etc.

        (The term still eludes me…I know there’s a name for it! I do! I’ve heard it! Gah!)

        1. Pebbles*

          “Market wage adjustment”?

          I once got a 12% raise out of the blue that used this phrase.

    2. Goya de la Mancha*

      Think of FMV in terms of houses then! You as a current or potential employee are a large investment. Not all houses may be worth the investment (employee who was let go), but most of them are worth the initial investment and more (your raise to “bring you up to code”).

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m pretty happy giggling to myself about being an alpaca or llama. Quality wool and whatnot.

    3. Catsaber*

      That is great! I experienced something similar – I received a Fair Market Value raise that brought me up significantly. I still earn less than my male coworkers, but the reason is fair – they have like 10+ years each of experience in our role as opposed to 2 years. But my boss really pushed for me to have that raise and strives to make sure everyone is paid fairly.

      I also received my raise while I was on maternity leave, which was a really nice surprise when I got back!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m pretty sure I’m paid less than the current H&S guy, but he’s also got 20 ish years of experience, so I totally understand that one.

        Coming back to a surprise raise would be pretty sweet, especially after maternity leave!

      2. Jen*

        I had a similar experience too. I was a little worried when I was out on maternity leave last year when annual bonuses and raises were decided, but I still got what I would have expected had I been in the office.

        And this year, my grandboss said that he reviewed all of his reports’ salaries and was trying to align them with expected market rates, and mentioned that I was underpaid. So I got a bigger than expected raise this year. He was careful not to blame it on gender wage disparities, but I assume that was likely one of the factors.

    4. Anon4Life*

      This is where I’m having trouble. We do market reviews every three years- just to make sure we stay on top of things. It’s time consuming, etc but it helps. I am the one who takes the lead on the market reviews – I work with the managers VPs on benchmarking, I pull reports, prepare information, etc.

      Under my VP, there are 2 basic departments: HR and Widgeters. My VP’s degrees are all in widgeting and there have been many instances where he has butt heads with HR because HR regulations did not fall in line with what he wanted to do. As HR, we have had the privilege of watching the Widgeters get thousands – sometimes tens of thousands – in increases. We have not received any. However, the market review shows (1) the widgeters are overpaid by $5k-$15k and (2) we are underpaid by $10k-$15k.

      Every time my VP receives this report, he goes back to the benchmarking and inflates the widgeter’s benchmarking (even though he had approved these as being correct before he saw the dollar amount and the inflation is obvious). He also says that giving increases to HR is “bad optics” because we did the compensation study and that it would be “unfair” to give HR increases without also further increasing the widgeter’s salary at the same time (it’s funny how that doesn’t work the opposite way).

      So, how do you address unfair compensation when it’s your department VP and it’s not discrimination based on a protected class, but on pure favoritism? I have been looking for other jobs, but am limited in my prospects right now.

      1. WellRed*

        That’s a tough one! It’s too bad he oversees two such widely different departments. Is there a logical way to get moved under another leader (I realize this is not a simple fix). Can you take it up with someone above him? Alternatively, what would happen if HR outsourced the compensation study next time? Honestly, I’d be tempted to say, “so, are you saying HR can never have a raise?”

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Yeah, I think I would go with a third party study, because that takes the whole “but you guys made the repooooorrrrttttt” logic right out of it.

          Alternatively, the entire HR department leaves for better salaries elsewhere, and VP of Unfair Salary Increases learns quickly how badly he’s managed that aspect.

      2. LaDeeDa*

        OH wow! That is a really tough spot. It goes to show that he doesn’t value the work of HR. Which is pretty common, it is why so many HRs are staffed with people that some VP somewhere decided it was a job anyone could do. We had this problem at one company if someone wasn’t a great Widgeter, but the CEO liked them and thought they had great “people skills” he would make HR give them a job they were not qualified for. UGG. It caused so many problems and left employees without proper HR resources– I think this is so much why HR has a bad rap.
        I don’t really know how to answer your question, because if the next in line in charge of HR isn’t fighting for what is right, then there is little that can be done. :/

        1. Anon4Life*

          Yeah he completely doesn’t understand HR or respect what we do. Once, he hired a widgeter that was terrible at widgeting. His answer was to transfer her to HR because he thought it was going to be simpler for her. But, what we needed her to do was much more complicated and she ended up screwing it up so badly that we had thousands in losses. And she refused to learn from her mistakes.

  10. Tavie*

    I’m going to share my experience with this because it may be valuable to someone: at my previous job, during the 2008 financial crisis, my company fired a lot of people – including my boss. They fired him because they realized I (assistant manager to his manager) could do what he was doing, and that they could pay me substantially less for it. At the time, I was stunned and emotional and barely able to think straight – I wish I had negotiated, but I didn’t–and they agreed to pay me slightly more than I was making as assistant manager, and promised to “revisit” my salary “after the economy was better”. At that time, he had been making twice what I was being paid when they put me into the roll. (I didn’t know this until later.) I got none of this in writing.

    Three years later, one of my male subordinates was given a substantial pay raise- more than I was making. I spoke to my former manager, with whom I remained friendly, and he told me what he had been making. I was shocked. At that point, I went to my manager, and his manager, and asked them to revisit their promise to bring my salary up now that the economy was stronger. At this point I had been doing his job for half the rate for 3 years, had an extremely good reputation in the company, and consistently excellent reviews.

    They told me to “prove myself”.

    I was shocked. I pointed out my achievements, my record, my reviews, and said that I wasn’t even asking to be brought up to his exact rate, just be given a substantial, good-faith salary bump to get me closer to what they had paid him. They refused.

    I picked up my stuff and left and never came back, except a week later to negotiate a layoff (i.e., they agreed to say they had laid me off so that I could collect unemployment.)

    I also filed a complaint with the EEOC. I had to lay out the whole case, which I did. They brought it to my former company, who called me a liar in writing. They said that I wasn’t doing the same job as the previous guy, and that’s why I was getting paid less. (Patently false.) EEOC told me I could pursue this with a lawyer. I had no money to do so, so that was that.

    My advice: document, document, document. Document everything you do. Get documentation of what the man does/was doing. Get new job descriptions in writing from your company. And it helps if you know a lawyer.

    1. Kobayashi*

      What state are you in? Many jurisdictions allow for the recovery of attorney fees. Here in California, you don’t need to pay an attorney to take that case for you. Most Plaintiff’s attorneys get paid one of two ways: attorney fees pursuant to statute (based on prevailing claim) or contingency (they take a percentage of what they get you and nothing if you don’t get something).

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        You can’t recover fees you can’t afford to pay out in the first place, though.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          But that’s how contingency fees work. They only get paid if they win money for you, at which point they take a percentage. So you don’t need to pay anything out in the first place if you find an attorney willing to take your case on a contingency basis. Some will also offer free initial consultations while they decide whether they’re willing to take your case on. I think it’s important for people out there to know this in case they ever find themselves in this position.

          And I’m so sorry you went through that, Tavie. :(

          1. Lora*

            ” if you find an attorney willing to take your case on a contingency basis.”

            This. You are going to be one person with the quality and effort of lawyer you can afford, vs. Giant Team of Ivy League Educated Corporate Lawyers, who belong to the same country club as the judge. Your chances are not great. If you get a settlement that isn’t downright terrible, that’s about all you’re going to get.

            And then even if you win, the chances of getting another job in your field at ALL are pretty slim. Because now you’re The Difficult Whiny One, the Instigator who sues her employer every time she’s unhappy. In real life, you probably are a delightful person and a diligent worker who was pushed into a corner and had no other options for enforcing the law! But that’s the reputation you get.

            Literally the ONLY time I have seen discrimination suits work is when they were class action suits with many hundreds of class members, because of this. If you’re one in hundreds or thousands, well, you were declared part of the class and probably not an actual instigator, people will still happily hire you. You’re a named plaintiff? Hope you got a lot of savings and were willing to change careers entirely.

            Link to the best example in my field: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/in-novartis-sex-discrimination-case-lawyers-get-40m-but-women-get-just-16k/

            1. TardyTardis*

              Tell me about it. I dared to point out that a certain author was um, merchandising her fans’ writing, and suddenly I was the one in trouble in that portion of the industry.

  11. JustAWomanInAMansWorld*

    Wow. I’m so sorry that happened to you. What disgusting behavior on their part. I hope you moved on to much bigger and better things.

    1. Tavie*

      I got a new job within one month of quitting, and it turned out MUCH better, and I’ve been promoted several times, and I’m still there 8 years later. :)

  12. alphabet soup*

    Does the amount of the disparity matter?

    I just found out today that I am making less than two other people (one still in the role, the other was my predecessor) with my same exact job title. The amount isn’t huge (a couple of thousand dollars) but I feel deeply upset by this. The kicker here is that this isn’t an issue of gender (we’re all women)– but it does appear to be an issue of race (they’re white, and I’m a visible person of color). Both of these people have much less experience than me– say, 1-2 years relevant experience, versus my 5 years of relevant experience. I have also provided a significant amount of coaching and mentoring to one of these individuals; she is also unable to handle her current workload, so I am now taking on significant portions of her work.

    I honestly don’t even care that much about the money. It’s the whole principle of the thing.

    1. Kobayashi*

      Yep, those are all legitimate factors for you to consider, and if you bring it up in a way that Alison suggested, a reasonable employer will either give you a good explanation or correct the disparity.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      It sounds like you should be making more than the one, and could make a strong case for it. I don’t think the amount matters, because like you say, it’s the principle!

    3. neverjaunty*

      If the amount doesn’t matter, then it will be no big deal for them to give you that amount, yes?

  13. Brett*

    I know at previous public sector job that pay discrimination on gender, race, and religion was pretty rampant. Management and HR knew about it, and could not do anything. There was no approved budget funding to change salaries and the legislative body had blocked any changes to individual salaries across the board, except when a job was reclassified.

    My question about this is, now that I left the job 3 years ago, and published salary figures show the discrimination is still clearly in place, can I do anything about it? Is this something I could still take the EEOC?

  14. Yikes*

    This is an excellent resource, Alison! My two cents I want to toss out here in the comments is that once someone has received permission from the EEOC to sue, depending on jurisdiction and other factors, they might be able to find an attorney willing to take the case on contingency, which means the attorney doesn’t get paid up front by the client, but rather out of the payout if/when the entity being sued loses in court or settles.

    Additionally, anyone commenting who’s concerned about frivolous lawsuits should rest assured that even genuine cases of discrimination can be difficult to prove, so any company even vaguely able to justify their pay practices will likely be able to prevail in the early stages of litigation.

    1. Kobayashi*

      Nope. Summary Judgment is a difficult burden, so most Plaintiff’s attorneys who are inclined to file frivolous claims work on a volume basis and count on the employer settling with some money just to avoid having to pay $100,000 to their counsel to litigate the case.

      1. neverjaunty*

        That strategy doesn’t work too good unless they target small businesses with no insurance.

    2. mt*

      also with eeoc claims, even if the workers wins/settles for $1, their attorneys will still get their total fees. This incentives attorneys from filing anything they think could win/settle for any amount,

  15. TotesMaGoats*

    As much as I love my job and my bosses, I’m struggling with this too. I work for the state, so our salaries are public knowledge. It’s a blessing and a curse in some ways. I know that my counterpart is making about 6K more than me. We are peers and have essentially the same title. I’m Senior Llama Manager-Baby Llamas, Llama Wrangler Management and Llama Production. He’s Senior Llama Manager-Old Llamas and Post Training Llama Management. I’ve have about twice as much work to do as him. I won’t say I’m universally adored but people frequently leave him out of meetings and emails because they forget he works here. (I’m not even kidding.)

    This employee is probably my boss’ one blind spot. She knows he’s barely up to par after 3 years on the job. 6 months in and I was good to go. However, we have severe budget issues. If we fired someone right now, we’d lose the salary line. If he quit, we could rearrange things to my liking. But I know that as much as my bosses would love to give me a raise, they just cant. I know they can’t.

    I’m thinking of asking for more adjustable hours in leiu of money, at least for now. I bust my butt. I make my goals. My llamas love me. My llama wranglers love me. I’m always available on email. The least they can do is let me roll out of here at 4;30 on a Friday.

  16. Chaordic One*

    I have seen these kinds of things happen with LGBT workers and also with older workers. I would assume that it also happens with racial minorities.

    1. Toby Flenderson*

      I would assume it happens to anyone in any line of work with crappy management. If greedy corporations know they can get away with hiring minorities to fill roles at cheaper rates, it’d be far more economical to hire as few straight white males as possible, no?

  17. Introvert girl*

    I’m being paid less than my male coworkers, a very tiny bit less, but still less. I brought it up, but my manager told me it isn’t true and that one male coworker get’s paid more because he has more responsibilities. I accept that, but I also know that two other male coworkers who are doing the exact same job as I am are being paid more. This bothers me, especially since I have more experience.

  18. Anonforthis*

    Let me preface this by saying I work in HR. And this happened to me! About 10 years ago, I worked in HR at a company where a male colleague was being compensated at a significantly higher salary and bonus potential, and he did not have my years of experience in HR or my educational credentials (both of which were required for the work we did). What he did have was tenure with the company. I pointed out the discrepancy to my manager (yes, the corporate HR manager) and she told me (I am not making this up) that he had worked his way up from an entry-level position, so his “cred” with the management team in general was higher. She also told me (keep in mind this was in 2009!) that he had a family to support. I pointed out that I *also* had a family to support, but that it wasn’t relevant in any case. I asked her if there was anything she could do. She said no. I then went to the General Counsel and laid out my case. He also told me his hands were tied. I ended up leaving shortly afterward. This is a company that is well-known in my local area and prides itself on diversity, etc., etc. So if it can happen to HR people, it can happen to anyone.

    1. Sally*

      Hmmmm. And I bet if it were flipped around, and he’d been the one with HR experience and the degree, and you’d been the one worked your way up, that his degree & experience *also* would’ve been used to justify his higher salary. :/

  19. Just Wondering*

    This is just me wondering out loud about a former job situation. A male coworker was being paid about 12k more than me, but I couldn’t figure out if that was for a legit reason. Here’s the situation:

    – our role was specialised application support for a university – my title was the highest it could go – Specialist 3
    – Dude was hired in the lower Specialist 2 role
    – Dude transferred from the general IT help desk, where he had about 5 years experience, but zero experience doing this type of application support (this was typical of most people hired into the lower level roles for this job)
    – I had 5 years of this specific application support, hence my title
    – Dude took a pay cut to come work for our team
    – Dude definitely did NOT produce the quality or quantity of work that I did – I performed at a higher level, and often did special projects whereas he did not
    – I was underpaid according to market

    So my question is…was that a case of him just negotiating a better salary than me when he started? My salary really should have been raised just to a fair market rate but that was a different issue. I think this still bugs me because I wish I had done something about it…at the time, I was too afraid to speak up and ask for a raise. But I wonder what the reason why behind this pay disparity…most likely my boss was just lazy and hoped I wouldn’t do anything (and he got his wish, obviously!).

    1. twig*

      My background: I’m an admin in the IT department of a state university. I coordinate search committees on the regular — BUT I am not an HR specialist, so this is based on observation.

      It could be that he negotiated a better salary when he started. That’s how it happens in my department. Sys admins and app specialists are hired as Admin Faculty within a certain pay grade (A, B, C, etc) and are able to negotiate within that pay grade.

      Another factor could be timing. Our state took a HUGE hit during the 2008 recession (our state’s education budget is STILL not back up to pre-2008 levels) at that point, merit pay increases and cola increases were halted. Admin Faculty have cola again, but still do not have merit pay.

      A Sys Admin who was hired around 2009-2010 when we were facing steep budget cuts might not have been able to negotiate for as high of pay as a Sys Admin hired into the same position in 2018 when we have a larger staffing budget even within the same pay-grade.

      But now, we have an influx of IT jobs and business coming into town, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hire and KEEP qualified people in our department, when they can get as much as 40% higher pay in industry. So, yeah, none of our admin faculty are making market rate right now.

      1. Just Wondering*

        Thanks for the reply! State budget could have very well played a part in it. I work at a large state university. I have since transferred to another department and it’s been far, far better in terms of pay, work, just everything. I still think my former boss could have done SOMETHING if he had chosen too…but who knows, he might have tried and gotten shot down. But knowing him, he probably didn’t.

        We’re having the same problem right now with hiring. Why work for 80k when you could easily make 140k somewhere else? And with many companies now offering telecommuting and flex hours – and our IT department is definitely not doing that – there’s not a whole lot of draw. What keeps me here is my excellent boss, and the fact that it works out really well for my child care situation.

        1. twig*

          I had meant to add that, yes your situation sounds unfair.

          Your boss may have been able to do something. I know our VP and directors have been doing what they can to up pay where possible either through line of progression promotions or other means to try to retain what talent we have. It’s complicated and it involves getting approvals all the way up to the president of the university, but it can be done sometimes.

          We’ve been emphasizing benefits and work-life balance in our searches. (IE: We can’t pay what industry can, but we do get lots of time off and paid holidays — oh, and are you kids almost to college age? Have you heard about our grant in aid program?)

          We also have a pretty great team in our department, which helps.

    2. Lindsey*

      I would assume this is because he took a pay cut to come to your team, more so than it being gender discrimination. I’d guess that if a woman came from the general IT help desk and had to take a pay cut to come work for your team, she’d also be paid the same amount.

      This is related to salaries often being based on prior salaries, and perhaps they had perceived some value in that 5 years of general IT experience. I’m not sure how many years of experience you have.

      It seems silly that if you had a higher job title you’d be paid less, but it’s not unheard of. Often, there is a kind of grid. So an Analyst 1 with 20 years experience may well be making a lot more than Analyst 3 with 2 years experience. I don’t necessarily agree with this because presumably if Analyst 1’s 20 years experience was adding extra value, he’d be an Analyst 3… but it is pretty common.

  20. Hummus*

    I encountered this recently. The reason I found out my male coworker’s salary was because he was complaining about his own pay. I was angry that I was a higher performer earning less, but I also did some research and realized he was right that his salary was also below market. I found a job that pays me much more per hour, is an amazing commute, and really great workplace culture.

    I decided not to pursue anything at my former company because I didn’t want my coworker to be punished for accidentally doing something to help women. If he was punished, he might clam up, and knowledge is power. I did tell them I was leaving due to pay, though.

    I’m not at all discouraging anyone from righting equal pay wrongs, just telling my story.

  21. thebearistrying*

    Yep happened to me, years ago. I was a mid-level manager and they hired a man to manage a different, smaller group. Same basic experience, paid him about $15k more. I went to my boss who said he couldn’t do anything. I told him I needed to speak to his boss which I did, laid it all out and we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity (you know the saying, the first to speak loses). He agreed and they brought me up over a period of about 6 months.

    I’m very glad they made it right, and the extra money was fine, but it was more about doing it for the women that have come up behind me.

    1. irene adler*

      Yes!, glad they rectified things for you. I like how you stared him down.

      Just have to wonder though: did the man have the $15K portion of his salary paid out over a period of 6 months as they did to you? IOW, why did they have to take 6 months to bring up your pay rate? The man received his full pay rate the day he started.

      It just seems to me there’s a big reluctance to put things on a parity. And those on the short end just have to be happy with whatever delays occur to make things “even”. Just my bias, I guess.

  22. What’s with Today, today?*


    What if the situation went like this:

    Male city manager made $150k per year until retirement.
    Female city manager that replaced him made $130k per year until retirement (3 years).
    Newly hired Male city manager that replaces her makes $170k per year.

    Would the woman have any recourse?

    1. WellRed*

      What are their respective levels of experience? How long was the first male manager in his position until retirement? Was the latest salary adjustment overdue or maybe made in relation to market factors? (ie, they’ve been underpaying and in order to hire qualified applicants, they needed to rethink it).

  23. Karen from Finance*

    This inspired me to look into payroll data in my company and see if we have a pat gap. This is something that’s not NOT my job to being up I guess (I do have access to the data after all). Preliminary figures are… Not good. But it’s hard to reach conclusions because so few people’s jobs are exactly the same.

    But there’s a lot of people in similar-yet-not-quite-the-same positions making substantial differences. What is a good way to proceed at this point, after some more thorough analysis? I need to be very careful with this.

    1. John Thurman*

      Maybe speak privately to the co-workers that look like they’re being paid less.
      “Like, hey I saw Jack over there is making $55k, but maybe your jobs are a little more different than they look…?” And then let them decide what to do with that info.
      (That is if you’re even allowed to talk about other employees salaries.)

      1. RandomU...*

        So you want to follow Karen from Finance’s job hunt on AAM?

        This is terrible advice. While Karen has access to the data are there specific rules about accessing it and what it’s used for. I would be surprised if there weren’t. If there are and this activity doesn’t fall within permitted use then stop.

        If there aren’t any rules about this then about the only thing I would do is use possible existing channels that have been set up for discreet reporting of ethics questions or other things.

        Anything else could find Karen in big mess that affects her career long term.

      2. Karen from Finance*

        I was very explicitly told that I would be fired if I revealed payroll data with people that don’t have access. And I was offended at the threat, because it kind of goes without saying that it’s a big no.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      At Salesforce, the Chief Personnel Officer took the data directly to the CEO. This worked for them (Salesforce has spent and continues to spend millions of dollars to maintain pay equity), but I can’t guarantee senior leadership elsewhere won’t stick with an initial reaction of “But that’s not a problem we have!”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I commend Salesforce and any other company actively trying to resolve the pay equity problem. But I would LOVE it if they give us a break on “look how much it’s costing us to be ethical and treat women like people!”

  24. Lisa B*

    [[Ask to meet with your boss; in the meeting, say something like: “I’m concerned about the salary disparity between me and George, and I’m concerned that we’re violating the Equal Pay Act by paying a man and a woman so differently for the same work. Can you help me understand why our salaries are so different?”]]

    I would suggest eliminating that middle section about violating the law, at least for the start of the conversation- I think it sets a different tone than what you’d be shooting for. “I’m concerned about the salary disparity between me and George. Can you help me understand why our salaries are so different?” If managements hems and haws or gives a softball answer, then you can pull out the “I’m concerned we’re violating the Equal Pay Act by paying a man and a woman so differently for the same work.”

  25. Jess S*

    Great article! Question for myself, as a long-time reader who is struggling not to be bias:

    My male coworker and I have the same title, he’s been with the company nearly 4 years to my 6. He also has a master’s degree, and several years teaching experience in my field. On paper, yes, he should be paid more- however, I have significantly more responsibilities than he does, i.e. we both manage projects, but I also handle all marketing, a lot of business development, etc. We were a small firm- 5 people, but we just merged with a larger firm, now 55 people.

    I feel lost because I’ve brought it up with my boss previously who cited the experience and master’s degree, but not the aspect of actual responsibilities. Do I have any standing here? Also, we don’t have an HR department. I love my job but there’s so little wiggle room here. Would appreciate any help in advance!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Usually the company gets more benefits, more profit, from someone doing more work. Having a degree rarely translates into more money for the company. Does he manage higher profit projects, while some of your other work keeps you from managing additional projects? Does the other work provide more or less value to the company than the projects?

      In other words, try to assess the benefits to the company of your two roles, ignoring the education and experience. It is possible that he’s still worth more to the company. Or perhaps he is not.

      1. Jess S*

        Both our project workloads are the same, if anything we both handle large scale projects and I manage many of the smaller ones. I really don’t think he’s worth more than me, on paper, and what we both contribute.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I don’t agree that he should be paid more than you now just because of the master’s and extra years of experience. Maybe a higher starting salary than what you got when you started, but your additional responsibilities should make you worth more to the company now than his degree etc. did four years ago. They sound like a pretty significant differentiator to me. So, could you lobby for a promotion + salary increase based on those extra responsibilities?

      To be clear, if the guy is still making more money than you but doing less, and less complicated, work that’s BS. But it sounds like the case to make is “I bring XYZ to the table and I feel that it’s worth +$$ more per year.”

      1. Jess S*

        I’ve been lobbying for around two years, but because we’re a small company, it hasn’t been as successful as I’d like. I’m hoping that the newly formed company will help me in my negotiations.

    3. Maya Elena*

      I agree with the suggestion that you bring this up and ask for a raise based on your contributions.
      However, as a counter-point, could his fewer projects be individually more complex or require expertise you do not have?

  26. Brownie*

    Yea…..you’ll need 100% transparency on performance – not just qualitative but quantitative as well. Pay should be based 100% on performance. So having data on pay and demographics – then making a decision to pay employee #1 who is a woman the same as employee #2 whole is a man based on gender alone is, surprise, sexist.

    If you want to end biased pay, remove everything from the equation except for pay and INDIVIDUAL performance.

    1. Maya Elena*

      It’s always a trade-off between rules and judgment. Too much rule/standards and you get a guaranteed average result, but also “teaching to the test” effects and reduced amount of the exceptional.
      Opening up the rules and letting people do whatever opens you up to the truly exceptional, but also to the exceptionally bad.

  27. HereKittyKitty*

    What if you’re being paid less than the industry standard and you believe it’s because your entire team is made up of women?

    This is something I struggle with. I believe all other teams are compensated at industry standard because they have male managers- and the one female team /just so happens/ to be below industry standard. I think this is unconscious and gendered bias, but it’s not a comparison within the field- it’s across fields so it doesn’t seem like this is something that could be brought up? I have a feeling they would just tell us we were wrong about “industry standard” though we have done a lot of research.

  28. Anon for sensitivity*

    What are the odds that such an approach will have a happy outcome, and you won’t be subtly or obviously pushed out in a short period of time? I would like to get statistics on that before recommending this approach to anyone, even if there are theoretical legal remedies.

    On a tangential note, I don’t want such rules to result in lower pay for everyone as the solution. For example, there are articles which say that Kansas City is the place for women in tech, because their salaries exceed men there. Never mind that Kansas City salaries in general are low, and a woman in tech will likely do significantly better in a tech hub city, even if her compensation is lower than the male average. Various European countries may have formal pay equality, but their salaries are *low* in general.

  29. FabJobTag*

    Allison offers advice and scripts as usual. The collaborative approach (using “we” rather than “you”) is so much more effective in getting positive results.

    1. FabJobTag*

      Ugh, my edit left out the adjective. I intended to write Allison offers EXCELLENT advice and scripts as usual.

  30. FabJobTag*

    Ugh, my edit left out the adjective. I intended to write Allison offers EXCELLENT advice and scripts as usual.

  31. Helena*

    Cynically, the Dunning-Kruger effect is going to be a confounding factor here. People who are bad at their jobs believe they’re good at their jobs (e.g., the running theme on AAM of people who have been given clear warnings but are still shocked when they’re fired.) Meanwhile, people who are fantastic at their jobs think they’re average (also, impostor syndrome factors in as well.) Even if I think I’m better than Demetrius at the same job, and we were hired on the same day and have exactly the same duties… if I’m wrong I wouldn’t know it.

    1. KHB*

      Are you working off the assumption that women are inherently less competent than men? If so, why?

  32. Violalin*

    What if there was a male person with a senior title and when they left, HR turned their role into a junior one and hired a woman, but the job duties were the same?

    1. DArcy*

      The British did that the other way around — they hired only men for newly created “senior” positions over existing women who were retroactively deemed “junior”. The effect was to literally destroy their once world-leading computer industry.

  33. Gibby*

    UGH I am the only female manager in our small family run business. I manage 6 people. The closest male who somewhat matches my work load (except employees) makes over 60% more than I do. And he is the owners son-in-law. The other males make at least 30% more than I do. No HR and a single owner who runs the boys club.

Comments are closed.